Entries by Bref

Solar Panels For Your Home: Things You Will Want to Know


Solar Panels for Your Home

Solar panel technician with drill installing solar panels on roof

In the last article I wrote about how we got started with considering solar energy for our home. Now, we’ll do a deeper dive and take a look at the exact buying process that we went through which will provide important insights for consumers who are preparing to get solar panels for their homes.

If you are a solar installer,  ​then you'll benefit from gaining an understanding of what your potential customers are thinking or asking before they buy from you.

We’ll also take a look at the top 10 questions that we had and you’ll be able to get a free resource.

As a consumer, this will help you navigate smoothly through a buying process for such a great investment as solar energy. We also include tips that may be helpful to the solar installers from a marketing perspective and as they look to connect with customers.

OK, let’s get straight into it then…

1.Where Do You Start With Solar?

You’ve probably been thinking about it for a while. Maybe it’s been a background thought or something that has started to interest you. You’ve seen it in the news, read about it online or seen an ad.

But if you are like we were as someone new to solar energy, then you may not know how it all works. (The short video in this post does a nice job at demonstrating how a home solar power system works) 

As we researched more solar companies we felt that many could have done a better job at bringing it all together for us in the beginning and given us a clearer picture of how solar would work for our home.

It would have been helpful to have a cheat sheet or a guide to reference. My wife is a bit a bit of a researcher so she went online to learn more and we discussed what she found.

Solar Installers: Are you providing a quick “Getting Started with Solar” Guide or similar resource to your potential customers?

We can help you with this too as we've already created many resources for our clients - just get in touch with us for a complimentary strategy session and consultation.

2. What Should We Do BEFORE We Get Solar For Our home?

This was a really important question for us that we discovered only after we had been pitched by a few solar companies.

Every home is different of course, but as we learned more and did our homework, we discovered that our attic insulation was significantly deteriorated. If we shored up our insulation it would improve the energy efficiency immediately which would affect the size of the solar installation that we needed, So we did - we also had radiant barrier installed and that gave us a better home-base to move forward with on solar.

It may make sense for you to assess your needs before you install solar.

We were impressed that the solar installer we chose recommended that we get our roof replaced before investing in solar. To be honest, it wasn’t what we wanted to hear because we were so gung-ho about getting solar installed as soon as possible, but...it was what we needed to hear.

Our roof had maybe three to five years max left. If we got the solar installed first and then had to take the panels down a few years later, we would pay for the removal and refitting of the solar system around the roof. But by doing the roof at the same time, we were able to benefit from the Federal Tax Credit on our roof also. So the solar installation and the roof would qualify for 30% tax credit which made perfect sense for us.

Homeowners can also check with their local energy companies - some offer complimentary energy audits which give you a report on home improvements you can make to gain energy efficiencies.

Solar Installers: Are you educating your customers on best practices to prepare for solar or sharing ideas on how to make their home more energy efficient? What are you doing to be the authority in your industry? Are you able to offer customers tips or resources that will help them maximize the value from their solar installation?

3.”Why Should We Buy From Your Company?”

There’s not a single person who doesn't ask this question.

As we got into it, there seemed to be lots of companies offering solar panel installation so we had to do decide who would be the best fit for our needs. Some companies said they were best price, others promoted superior products, In the end we made a decision based on what we perceived as best value for our situation.

I think Solar companies should be aware of who they are trying to attract and speak to them in a unique and personal way. Educating consumers on the benefits of working with your company are important as is the use of customer testimonials and experience.

Solar Installers: This is an opportunity to stand out from your competition and position your solar business as a leader in the market or you may decide to specialize in a niche segment. For example “We specialize in bringing solar power to single family homes who want to save money and go green!”

 What are you doing to educate your potential customers on the value that your company brings to the table and how you differentiate yourself from the competition.? Are you demonstrating experience or highlighting customer reviews? Establishing and communicating a clear competitive advantage is important for our clients - if you want to stand out from the crowd and win your unfair share of new solar customers, just get in touch to set up a strategy session with us and learn what you can do.

4. “What Products Do You Use?”

This was a part of the process that involved some real education and there was surprising lack of information from some of the solar companies. Some did not even have images of the panels with their proposals. We eventually learned that we could buy solar panels from Suniva to Hyundai. Some solar panels were made in China and some were made in the US. Obviously companies will source from different manufacturers. Some people may not care, but we wanted know what we were buying and you might too.

Solar Installers: What car do you drive? Is it foreign or domestic? Was it a great deal or did you care more about the luxury aspects? Some people care a lot about the origin of their products. Others just want best price. How are you positioning the VALUE of your products and service?

5. How Will Solar Panels Look On Your Home?


Solar Panels For Your Home

I’m a visual person and it was important for us to get a picture of the solar installation, where the panels would be fixed and how our home would look. Only one company showed us this.

Solar Installers: A picture paints a thousand words. Help homeowners visualize how their home will look with your products and move them a step closer to becoming YOUR customer.

Image: PV Rooftop Layout for Our Home - 32 Solar Panels

6.Mono or Poly?

(For a quick explanation on these terms you can check out the Solar Installation Dictionary.)

The company we chose was helpful in explaining some of the differences here but again we needed to use the internet to get a better understanding.

We learned that, polycrystalline solar panels are not quite as efficient as monocrystalline solar panels and have a lower space-efficiency.

Poly solar panels also tend to have slightly lower heat tolerance than mono which would mean that they perform slightly worse in the high temperatures that we typically have here in Florida. One company sent a salesman who did not even know if they used Mono or Poly.

Solar Installers: Consumers are doing more research so you should make sure that you are positioning your company as the experts and the authority. In your proposals you should detail your products and describe why your recommendation is a good fit for their needs.

7. “What if You Want to Get Additional Panels Later?”

This is a fair question.

Some folks will want smaller PV systems while others may want large systems to totally eliminate their electric bill or even sell back to the grid.

We wanted to know how much it would cost to add more solar panels later, after the installation. Again it would have been helpful to know this sometime upfront.

Solar Installers: Can your company stand apart from the competition by offering a ‘price-lock’ where your customer locks in the same great rate if they need to add panels within the next 1-2 years?

One of the components of our Solar Customer Acquisition System is an automated reminder sequence for potential customers who may be on the fence. Our clients have higher conversion rates and you can too. Just get in touch to find out how.

8.How Much Will it Cost and How Can You Pay?


Solar panels for your home

a) How Much Will It Cost?

Each proposal that we looked at was similar in the fact that it broke down the purchase price and net cost after incentives, which is great. But what would have been really helpful for us, and saved us a lot of over-and-back, would have been a breakdown of payment options.

b) How Can You Pay?

We wanted to know exactly what payment options that we had and how they worked. We kind of needed someone to spell it out for us. People don’t want to have to get calculator out if they don’t have to.

Of course you can pay cash. But the 12 month 0% financing was extremely helpful for us and an option that we selected. We also went through with a HELOC (Home Equity Line of Credit) which was a better option for us over the financing offered by some of the solar companies.

In the end it took us a while to evaluate all the financing options and actually the company who explained these to us the best was the one we ended up going with.

Solar Installers: Don’t assume that your customers are finance experts. You can help them by mapping out a few payment / financing scenarios and include it in your proposal. Speak to your customers on their level.

9.Peace of Mind: Warranties & insurance?

a) Warranties

All of the solar companies we spoke to had a warranty of some sort, but it was not always apparent or easy to find. I think it could be highlighted by companies a bit more.

Solar Installers: Warranties are important. Make sure your warranty is easy to find and demonstrates value to the customer. Removing any perceived risk as early as possible in the buying process is always going to be a smart move

b) Insurance

My wife kept having these visions of a leaky roof. Sure enough when we read through the proposal with (the company we chose), we discussed the warranty for contractor workmanship and they put our mind at ease.

Solar Installers: Are you getting ahead of the question and putting your customer's mind at ease by making your insurance and warranties easily understandable?

10.We’re ready! How do we get started?

It was a little surprising for us how some companies really didn’t make it clear exactly how we would move forward. With this being our first time to be involved with solar and with so much other stuff going on in our lives, we needed to know exactly how to get started. Where do we sign….?

Solar Installers: Don’t take anything for granted. Make it easy for the customer to say yes. When you ask for the sale show them the exact steps involved in getting solar panels installed for their home. This could be something as simple as bullet points within your new customer proposal.

Solar panel technician with drill installing solar panels on roof In the last article I wrote about how we got started with considering solar energy for our home. Now, we’ll do a deeper dive and take a look at the exact buying process that we went through which will provide important insights for consumers who […]

The Solar Installation Dictionary


Solar Dictionary

As with any decision you make, it's important to understand the language and terms that you're dealing with. Before we got solar for our home, we didn't know the difference between mono or poly, or what an inverter was. Browse our FREE Solar Installation Dictionary below and get the lingo down before you put the panels up!

Solar Panel

A panel exposed to radiation from the sun, used to heat water or, when mounted with solar cells, to produce electricity direct. [Dictionary.com]

Photovoltaics (PV)

Solar cells, also called photovoltaic (PV) cells by scientists, convert sunlight directly into electricity. PV gets its name from the process of converting light (photons) to electricity (voltage), which is called the PV effect. [www.nrel.gov]

Kilowatts

The kilowatt hour (symbol kWh) is a derived unit of energy equal to 3.6 megajoules. If the energy is being transmitted or used at a constant rate (power) over a period of time, the total energy in kilowatt-hours is the power in kilowatts multiplied by the time in hours. [Wikipedia]

Inverter

A solar inverter, or converter or PV inverter, converts the variable direct current (DC) output of a photovoltaic (PV) solar panel into a utility frequency alternating current (AC) that can be fed into a commercial electrical grid or used by a local, off-grid electrical network. [Wikipedia]

Mono

Monocrystalline silicon (or "single-crystal silicon", "single-crystal Si", "mono c-Si", or just mono-Si) is the base material for silicon chips used in virtually all electronic equipment today. Mono-Si also serves as photovoltaic, light-absorbing material in the manufacture of solar cells.. [Wikipedia]

Poly

Polycrystalline silicon, also called polysilicon or poly-Si, is a high purity, polycrystalline form of silicon, used as a raw material by the solar photovoltaic and electronics industry. [Wikipedia]

Net Metering

This is where you as a homeowner receive credit from your utility company for electricity that your panels produce but you don’t use (e.g create excess power in the summer and sell it back to the grid). Net metering is currently available in every state with the exception of Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and South Dakota. Check with your utility company regarding their net metering policies.

As with any decision you make, it’s important to understand the language and terms that you’re dealing with. Before we got solar for our home, we didn’t know the difference between mono or poly, or what an inverter was. Browse our FREE Solar Installation Dictionary below and get the lingo down before you put the panels up!Solar […]

Considering Solar Energy For Your Home? Our Solar Experience (Part I)


So excited for solar

Taking a break from my normal writing on digital marketing, I wanted to focus an article on solar. I think that the timing is perfect as we see a shift in consumer sensitivity towards our environment and heightened awareness of renewable energy thanks in part to the Tesla’s of this world (an interesting marketing story of its own) but also the presidential race. Hillary Clinton’s vision calls for half billion solar panels, or about 140 gigawatts of solar, to be installed in the U.S. by 2020, and enough clean energy to power all homes by 2027. Now that would be a game-changer and a huge step forward for the US to not only progress with renewable energy but also to catch up with other nations.

I also believe that Solar energy plays into my philosophy of generating results -positive results that the end user benefits from. In this case, we look at consumers who can reap the rewards of going solar and also the companies who provide the solar installations.

On top of this, my family and I had been exploring getting solar panels on our home and from this, we found ourselves in a position to tell a story about the process.

So as you read on, my goal is that you will:

  • Get a clearer picture of the consumer benefits of solar energy

  • Understand what a typical family solar buying process looks like (taking a liberty by calling my family typical!)

  • Decide if solar may be a good option for you

Background Snapshot

Since I was a kid, renewable energy has been super-interesting for me. Growing up in Ireland, I remember seeing the first wind-turbines appear across the country in rural parts.

Interesting side note: According to this article from TheJournal.ie, in 2015 wind turbines generated 23% of Ireland's average electricity demand, one of the highest electric grid penetration values in the world and Ireland is now set to start seriously investing in solar energy also.



Welcome to Florida USA

But in 2004 I swapped the ‘four-seasons-in-a-day’ climate of Ireland for the sunshine state of Florida. Somewhat surprisingly however, there really hadn’t seemed to be very much solar energy production in this state.

According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, ‘Florida, “the sunshine state,” ranks third in the nation for rooftop solar potential, but all the way down at 14th for cumulative solar capacity installed’.

Now, as many readers will understand, there are various reasons for this relative lack of pace with solar in Florida including somewhat unprogressive renewable energy policies to this point.

However, I am excited to say that Floridians took a step forward in August 2016, by voting Yes on Amendment 4 which supported providing tax exemptions for solar power equipment.

How We Got Started With Solar

We purchased our home at the end of 2014 and as new homeowners we were excited to make it our own. My wife and I spoke about looking into solar a few times, but we never really had the time to sit down and explore it seriously.



Then one day as the kids were napping, she saw an ad in her Facebook newsfeed, offering a free solar calculator. She filled it in and got a report on what it would cost, the amount of energy it would provide and our lifetime savings from solar. We were then contacted later that day by a solar company who answered some of our preliminary questions and they set a date later that week to give us a full energy audit, including solar.

As my wife says, “Education on solar power was important for us”. She is definitely more of a researcher and a planner, while I prefer to boil it down and make a decision.

Now we had the ball rolling on evaluating solar for our home. As we did our research and understood the advantages of having solar panels installed on our home, it became clear that we would achieve quite a few benefits.

Why We Chose Solar

My wife is from Washington state and we enjoy periodic visits back to her hometown of Kelso where we stay with her parents (they have a hot tub and cool outdoor shower). As a youngster, she enjoyed listening to Willie Nelson. Since we met, I have teased her for being a hippy 😉

Coming from Ireland and growing up in the country, the environment has always been important to me - so renewable energy and solar definitely resonated with us. We could feel good about helping the environment.

But that alone, wouldn’t have been enough for us to move forward. We’re a young family, still establishing ourselves and my wife left her job to focus on raising our two young boys, so economics plays a part in our decision-making too.

Solar checked that box also. In fact it checks a few financial boxes:

  • Eliminating or heavily reducing our electricity bill: Our 9.6kw system (32 panels) will reduce our average monthly electricity bill from $160 per month to close to practically $0.

  • Increasing the value of our home: According to an article by Fannie Mae, homes with solar panels sell for more because they offer a definite financial benefit to the future owner. We estimate that our system will add $20-30k in value to our property.

On a really basic level, instead of paying for an electricity bill every month, we’ll be contributing towards an investment in our home and our environment. One can’t help but feel good about that!

Federal Tax Credit



As if that wasn’t enough, we also have the Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC), which has been extended through 2021. This is a real beauty for a number of reasons. From our family standpoint we get to clip 30% off the total cost of our solar installation!

But from a macro position, the ITC continues to help sustain the growth of solar in the US and according to the Solar Energy Industries Association, the Solar industry is expected to add over 200,000 new jobs in the US by 2020.

Things You Need to Know When You Go Solar.

The short video below from Mark Jones does a nice job of explaining how a home solar power system works. Take a peek and then we can continue on with our story and get into the nuts and bolts of investing in solar for your home...

When it comes time for you to speak with a solar installer and get a proposal, you may also want to check out The Solar Installation Dictionary for your home.

So now let’s do a deeper dive and take a look at the exact buying process that we went through to get solar installed on our home.

We’ll also take a look at the top 10 questions that we had and you’ll be able to get a free resource to help you consider what’s best for your needs when having solar installed on your home.

Just head on over to this article...

Taking a break from my normal writing on digital marketing, I wanted to focus an article on solar. I think that the timing is perfect as we see a shift in consumer sensitivity towards our environment and heightened awareness of renewable energy thanks in part to the Tesla’s of this world (an interesting marketing story […]

10 Tips to Get More Real Estate Leads From Your Website

How to Maximize your digital interactions that result in personal connections


10 Tips to Get More Real Estate Leads From Your Website

‘Developing a steady stream of leads’ - that’s what successful real estate agents want most. 

Sure there’ll be variables within there such as buyer leads, seller leads, desirable transaction values and so on. But it all boils down to closing more deals.

And every good seller knows that in order to close enough deals and reach your commission target, you’ve got to convert enough leads.

If you’re reading this, then you’ve probably got solid a solid grasp as to what your closing rates are and how many leads you need to achieve your goals. You're a high performer.

I’ve put together a list of 10 effective ways for you to get more leads from your website right now. Put them into action and let me know what worked best for you.If you don’t have a real estate website yet - don’t worry. Read on and learn; some of these tips can be used on social media, in person and then you can always get a website created.

Personal referrals are golden, but the web is taking over real estate, and it’s time to be proactive and change with it. These tips will show you just how a real estate website can power your lead generation machine.

So let’s get to the fun stuff...

1. Be informative and have fun by posting helpful articles either through your blog or your facebook page. There’s so much that you can write about; from DIY to gardening, community news and local events and everything else related to homes.

2. Get links from your favorite vendors and have them link to you on a resources page. This helps with SEO. Partner with your neighborhood associations and get linked from their websites too.

3. Leverage the power of Social Media, particularly Facebook: Make sure you link to your website to FB and vice versa...you should use Facebook to promote your website. Facebook also has a highly targeted advertising system that you can use to attract buyers or sellers.

4. Give First: Start by providing value and then you can get leads back in return. You can create a helpful guide for potential customers such as “How to negotiate the best deal when purchasing your home even in a sellers market”. You receive their contact info in return.


 tips to get more real estate leads from your website

Don't worry, you've got this!

5. Cross promotions with Local Businesses: Chat with some other local businesses that you know and pool together for a contest. Host it on your site or mention it in your blog posts to get people to sign up. Then have the other businesses mention it too.

6. Be personal: Use your website to engage people, connect with them and get your brand across. Have fun and develop some KLT (Know, Like, Trust)!.

7. Add Video: Don’t worry, you don’t need to be a Hollywood actor. Just embed a Youtube video on each page and let your video do some educating or pre-selling for you. Seriously, if I can do it...you’ve got no problems. Click here to see a video I shot and posted to YouTube in 5 minutes.

8. Compare and Contrast: I know when we bought our home a couple years back, we (ok, mainly my wife) did a lot of comparisons in the area. Everything from schools to security, restaurants to running paths. Demonstrate your knowledge and compare and contrast the different living options in your neighborhoods.

9. Interview people: As part of your blogging / social media calendar, why not interview community figureheads. School teachers, sports coaches or restaurant owners. This will help generate great content for your website and form great connections for your real estate business.

10. Host Events: An article on real estate marketing wouldn’t be complete without talking about networking. The key here is to make it fun...and not a chore. What kind of events can you either attend or host? I work with a realtor who is passionate about soccer - he hosts socials when there’s a big soccer match on TV. He also sells homes to the soccer fans who come watch these games. Smart.

If you want to separate yourself from the pack of agents that don’t know how to consistently build a strong brand, generate good leads, and refine their closing rate - get in touch with me for a free strategy session. Even if you don’t have a website, we can give you the blueprints to set one up in just a few days.

​How to Maximize your digital interactions that result in personal connections ‘Developing a steady stream of leads’ – that’s what successful real estate agents want most. Sure there’ll be variables within there such as buyer leads, seller leads, desirable transaction values and so on. But it all boils down to closing more deals.And every good seller […]

How to Generate Leads through your Social Media Strategy


Generate Leads through your social media strategy

We recently created a slide that put the importance of social media in perspective. The numbers are incredible: over 329 Million users on Twitter.

329 MILLION! The town that I grew up in has a population of about 329 people, at a stretch.And Twitter’s reach pales in comparison to Facebook's 1.59 BILLION users!

You already know how the importance of having a social media is for your business because you can’t go online these days without reading about it. Let’s get straight to the point of this blog post - we know that social media is great for building a community and getting to know people.

But, in order to make it generate an ROI for business you have to have components of your social media strategy that move people from prospects to leads through a series of steps–a funnel–and get them to take the actions you want (e.g., becoming a fan, sharing their email address or buying your products or services).

So let’s look at a few ways that you can leverage your social media strategy to turn prospects into leads.

Identify Where Social Media Fits in with Your Marketing Funnel

Do some research to determine what are likely to be your best social media platforms to engage with your audience.You may want to consider the social media platform demographics, but also your propensity as a business to utilize those platforms. It’s hard to wrong with Facebook and Twitter right now.

Next, you must understand what your sales path looks like. In his article in Social Media Examiner, Brian Carter considers using Awareness, Repeat Visibility and Engagement and Sales. 



Your social media strategy is about continuous communication and conversations.

If you continue to produce valuable information, you will continue to increase awareness for your product/ service, promote loyalty, and motivate advocacy. This essentially produces a feedback loop where promoters spawn awareness, to a new target market population.

This continues to be a cyclical program thus increasing the population in every funnel group.

Notice that a key component in our social media strategy is getting your social media prospect onto your email list.

Make It Easy for Prospects to Convert

You can have multiple ways for your social media followers to join your email lists. For example, you can have a sign-up page on Facebook as well as on your website (which you absolutely must have!). We also cover this in an article about 7 proven strategies for lead generation.

Give Away Something Valuable

If you read our 7 proven strategies for lead generation article then you’ll know we are big on lead magnets. On your website (and ideally within each blog article) you should offer a lead magnet that is valuable to your audience and solves at least one problem they have quickly.

Build Relationships with Your Followers

Take the time to interact with your social media followers so that they want to know more about you. Answer their questions, help them, and be a resource to them. The more you can show that side of your personality and engage with the followers, the more likely they are to want to sign up for your offerings.

Create a Special Email Campaign for Social Media Prospects

Remember that you don’t want to send the same email marketing campaign to everyone. You should customize based on where they sign up, which lead magnet they download and more. Each leads to the same thing, but is done differently based on where the audience member is in your marketing and product funnel.

At BR Marketing, we use marketing automation to identify and communicate differently with different audience segments.

Test, Measure and Adjust

Always set goals that are specific so that you have a way to measure your results. If you’re not meeting your goals, figure out where you can adjust something to make it work just a little bit better. That’s what’s awesome about online marketing; it’s adjustable on the fly.

Host a Contest

Ensure that you follow the rules of the social network in order to host a contest, using the right third party or native service to do the contest correctly. A contest can help get email sign-ups fast.

My first foray into generating leads through social media was in 2011. My wife and I were backpacking in South America when we setup an ecommerce handcraft store. By running a contest we signed up over 500 new facebook followers and email leads for about $50!

Run an Ad Campaign

This is especially great for Facebook because you can target your ad so closely, even down to marketing only to your own groups if you want to. By running ads you get to throw fuel on the fire and generate leads fast.

WARNING: If mishandled, you can also set your social media house on fire and burn money!

Remember that most social media followers are just learning about you and want to see how you do things.They’re going to observe for a while, get to know you and then it’s up to you to develop the likeability and trustability before they eventually jump on board.

It’s All About Results

At BR Marketing, we recently ran a social media marketing campaign using Facebook and Twitter. In the first 30 days, we saw the following results:

  • Increased client web traffic by 70%
  • Brought them 5x more customers than the previous 30 days before launching
  • Generated a 10:1 ROI on the one month campaign

What are doing to generate leads from your social media marketing strategy? Leave us a comment below.

We recently created a slide that put the importance of social media in perspective. The numbers are incredible: over 329 Million users on Twitter.329 MILLION! The town that I grew up in has a population of about 329 people, at a stretch.And Twitter’s reach pales in comparison to Facebook’s 1.59 BILLION users!You already know how […]

How To Start a Blog


Blog quickstart

I’ve learnt from experience that the hardest thing in completing anything is just getting started. Working out. Moving to a new place. Cooking a meal. Starting a business. A blog is central to your business success for a number of reasons: Build Trust Online Establish Yourself as an Expert Turn strangers into friends Improve Your […]

7 Proven Strategies to Generate Leads for Your Business


7 Steps to generate leas for your business

Ok so you’ve printed up flyers, blasted out posts to your Facebook fans and Twitter followers and you just paid a guy to do SEO and Google AdWords ( but you’re not sure if he’s doing SEO or SEM or both). You haven’t really seen a noticeable uptick in sales inquiries or new appointments that you need to generate leads grow your business.

Don’t worry you are not alone.

Generate Leads

There are hundreds of ways to generate leads and the truth is that it can be head-spinning to try to understand all of them.

Successful small business owners are always trying to increase their customer base and grow their business – having access to a steady stream of leads is critical.

No leads, no luck.

While it will vary by business, a lead is basically a consumer (B2C) or business (B2B) that has ab interest in what you are offering.

Today, we are going to share with you 7 free things that you can do to generate leads for your business and we’ll even throw in a bonus at the end.

1. Blog

I know – you’ve already heard this. But for good reason – it works and it helps generate leads for your business.

But in spite of this, many companies do not have a consistent content calendar. You’ve really got to have a business blog to be successful at streaming traffic through your website and leads through your funnels. Posting once a month is better then never!

Commit to writing 250 words per day.

OK, if you can’t do that just do 100 words bare minimum and by the end of a week you can have a 500+ word blog post. It doesn’t have to be perfect – it just has to be your voice helping your customers or commenting on one pertinent and relevant topic.

Schedule 15 minutes per day to write 100-250 words. Just let it out!

For a quickstart guide to starting a blog, read this post.

(Many give up when no results come in the first month or two – don’t let that be you!)

2. Lead Magnet: Give First – Get Later (When They are Ready)

Ok so I know you want to get the leads, but think about it like this…think about some people that have tried to sell you stuff.

There’s the guy who know you for all of five minutes and he’s obviously trying to sell you something. You remember – the guy who tried to sell you life insurance. He lays on the heavy stories about the kids with no parents and you walk away just feeling like crap. “Better to try and avoid him in the future I think”. You want to take care of your family, but there’s a way to do it without feeling like dirt.

Now think about someone who you actually enjoy buying from. You may not even think that they have tried to sell stuff to you, because you probably like them so much. They took the time to get to know you, learn about that is important to you and when the time was right you actually asked them to sell you something.

My wife and I have been married since 2007 (wow, almost 10 years! You can click here to see a picture of us on our wedding day. Tuxes were in!) Even before then, people were trying to sell us houses. Seemed like everyone we met in 2006-2008 was a realtor. As soon as I’d say hello, I’d have a business card in my hand.

In late 2014 we bought our first home. Our realtor’s name is Luke and he has the patience of a nun! He drove us around to tons of houses when we were figuring the whole thing out. But it was what he’d done before we were ready. He took the time to get to know us, he remembered things like Birthdays and anniversaries. He spoke to me about my passion for soccer. Luke always had great resources for us and answers to questions we had along the way. He cared, he provided. We bought.

Now I am not saying wait 10 years to sell! Just get to know your audience a little first.

Give your audience or target customers some up front value. This could be a short ‘insiders guide’ to help them with any decision making they need to do in your industry, or a ‘checklist to increase success in their desired outcome of using your product or service’. To make sure they get it, they need to give you their contact information.

And voila! You have generated a lead. Here’s a practical example:

There’s an online marketer called Bryan Harris – a really great guy who helps entrepreneurs grow their email lists. He provides an incredible amount of upfront free content that help his audience- he has 20+ free resources that people can use and do use to achieve impressive results. You just give him your email address and he sends it to you.

Here’s how it works:

Give them a free resource (aka lead magnet) to help them + they give you their contact information = generated a lead.

You can now communicate with them and (depending on your business model) nurture them on an email campaign, social media relationship or in-person meetings.

Give first. Get later.

(check out Bryan’s website at VideoFruit, featuring tons of resources).

What have you given your customers lately?

3.Use Email Marketing

There are many reasons to use email marketing including lead generation but my favorite is one thing:

Conversation.

Wouldn’t you like to be able to engage your customers and prospects in meaningful dialogue?

Email is such an effective tool to communicate with the people who matter most to your business. It gives you the ability to stay top-of-mind and keep people engaged with your business at every all year-round and you can set up automations to speak to them with relevancy at specific times for your business e.g before the holidays with a sales message, or send them a birthday note.

Here’s 10 more good reasons to use email as part of your marketing strategy:

  • Strengthen relationships
  • Improve communication
  • Build your brand and stay top of mind with consistent emails
  • Track engagements such as open rates, clicks on links.
  • Get feedback on specific products or services
  • Increase traffic to your website
  • Provide a personal touch to your marketing
  • Build excitement and give your audience something to look forward to
  • Generate leads!
  • Increase sales by sending a promotional message

4. Attract Leads Using Twitter

Twitter is a short and snappy communication tool that allows you to send out messages (tweets) up to 140 characters long.

Use your tweets to link to specific content (blog entry, site page, PDF, and so on) or a photo or video.

As we have become an incredibly visual society, images help. Adding a picture or video to a tweet extends what you can share past the 140-character limit for tweets.

Again, twitter comes back to conversation and because of the quick cuts of information we can share and comments we can make twitter can be a true form of digital conversation.

Twitter users can also choose to share your content by retweeting. Get a twitter power user with a big following to retweet your stuff and you can reach thousands of people.

On Twitter, you can also generate leads by gathering email addresses from potential customers by using a free twitter card.

Audience members, or leads that have communicated an interest in your business, are what drive your business forward.Once you’ve caught these new email addresses, you can add these potential clients to your email campaigns and continue the conversation on your terms within your platform.

5. Networking

There was a time when I thought of networking as an awkward business-card-swapping interaction at a hotel over an expensive breakfast. Well let’s face it, some organizations still do that.

But if you pick the right event, with the right people and the right conversation, then networking can be one of the most tried-and-tested methods of generating leads.

And, if you do a little homework then networking can be both productive and fun.

Here’s a few tips:

  • Do your research: If you can, find out who will be attending and identify a list of priority introductions.
  • Be confident: Don’t be the guy in the corner on his phone.
  • Grab attention: Just like every lead generation tactic needs to grab attention in the first few seconds, at a networking event you too have a limited amount of time to get on other person’s radar and show that you have a compelling solution. Refine your “elevator pitch”.
  • Engage: So you don’t want to sound like you actually practiced a pitch, you want to be natural and engage with the other person in conversation.
  • Listen more than you talk: Listen to what they are saying so that you can understand their needs and nail your follow up.
  • Build a relationship: You’re not selling on the spot here. Get to know who you are speaking with so that you can develop a relationship.
  • Follow up: Send a personal note or an email referring to where you met. The fortune is in the follow up.
  • Systemize: Once you have done this a couple of times it becomes second nature. To take it a step further you could setup an automated email sequence (see #3) to activate after each new meeting.

Also, networking doesn’t necessary have to be the super formal type. It could be based around something fun that you like to do.

I network every week while playing soccer.

Just make sure that you engage in those conversations that you want to engage in. All of the steps above still apply!

6. Answer a question on Quora

Quora is a room full of questions and answers on specific topics.

The online question and answer community is a place where people can post questions and get advice from others in their industry.

Start by picking relevant discussions where you can chip in with advice and increase the value of the conversation.

When you start to install yourself in a trusted group, you have the chance to benefit in a number of ways:

  • Build your personal and business brand
  • Become an authority
  • Help people in your industry-space
  • Track and analyze results
  • Drive traffic to your website, where you can talk to them

Since most consumers today look for reviews and peer to peer information, a discussion is a high quality forum like Quora can boost your company’s visibility within relevant groups of individuals.

Concentrate on giving honest feedback and advice help and you’ll rapidly observe that you’re building up a qualified audience pool.

One word of caution: Quora is a community-driven site, which means its users are looking for answers, NOT marketing messages. When posting links, make sure you’re providing value for the people using the site.

Don’t be the snake oil salesman.

Be the guy who is known as an expert and authority at what you do.

7. Don’t Forget to Ask – Have a Strong Call to Action

As a young media sales rep, I remember sitting in the car with my manager after a sales call and asking him for feedback. I had done pretty well I thought…great presentation and the client seemed eager to buy. “Don’t forget to ask for the sale” was his friendly response.

I had done everything I thought. A thoughtful, well presented solution to a problem they were having, I had created a good relationship and they said they were interested – we just had to come back next week.

But he was ready then, and I didn’t ask. I remembered from then on to ask for the sale and went on to generate millions of dollars for that company.

When someone visits your website, are you asking them to take action?

When it comes to generating leads for your business online you have to clearly point the prospect in the direction of what you want them to do. They are reading your content or on your website for a reason.

They need direction so let them know. Include a strong call to action.

Do you want a social share of your content? A site visit? Their contact information in return for a lead magnet? A subscription to your page or channel? Maybe you want them to buy now?

Be clear – spell it out and let them take action which will generate leads for you.

Bonus: Quick-Start Checklist for Lead Generation

Ok so you’ve printed up flyers, blasted out posts to your Facebook fans and Twitter followers and you just paid a guy to do SEO and Google AdWords ( but you’re not sure if he’s doing SEO or SEM or both). You haven’t really seen a noticeable uptick in sales inquiries or new appointments that […]